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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mental Health Reform Will Not Reduce US Gun Violence, Experts Say

Rita Rubin
Published online December 16, 2015. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.16421

Here is an excerpt:

But while few people would disagree with the need for mental health reform, scientists who study gun violence say it won’t make much of a dent in the number of homicides and attempted homicides committed with firearms. That’s because although mass shooters are likely to be mentally ill (but not necessarily diagnosed), high-profile mass shootings represent only a small fraction of US gun violence, the vast majority of which is committed by people who are not mentally ill. In addition, most people with mental illness are not violent; they are far more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of shootings.

People should realize that “even though it feels that mass shootings happen all the time, they’re still extremely rare,” said Jeffrey Swanson, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University.

Through early December 2015, about 450 individuals died in mass shootings in the United States last year, according to Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowd-sourced website that defines a mass shooting as one in which at least 4 people have been shot but not necessarily killed (http://bit.ly/1MuHpVL). Compare that with 11 208, the number of people killed in homicides committed with firearms in 2013, the most recent year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has US data (http://1.usa.gov/1GEJ0TN).

The entire article is here.